Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Review of “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison
Prefaced by the (loosely styled) essay “Stealing Tomorrow,” Ellison describes mankind's primitivism in the face of civilization, and the instinctual desire to rebel against that which is rational. The essay setting the tone, “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” goes on to tell the story of a non-conformist flouting the legal and social mores of a society governed by the clock. A satirical representation of the freak scene happening in American counter-culture of the 60s, the conclusion forms a Nineteen Eighty-four body with A Clockwork Orange head.
While one can argue the merits of rebellion in time and place, Ellison’s Che Guevara notion in “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman” is as entertaining as it is vividly surreal. Inspiration to Philip Jose Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage” in style, Ellison’s voice pervades the tale, giving it bite where lesser writers would have nibbled. Agree or disagree with the base conception, it remains powerful absurdism by chic alone, and worth the time for it.
*For those unaware, Open Road Media is slowly and quietly re-releasing a huge quantity of older science fiction and fantasy in e-book form. Preserving a lot of old speculative fiction that would otherwise slip through the cracks, their effort is worth commendation, particularly as they are not going out the way to advertise the effort themselves.
Posted by Jesse at 11:25 AM